Courtesy of a gargantuan Chris Sale trade and a generous package for Adam Eaton, the Chicago White Sox rebuild went from nonexistent to hyperspeed in a matter of hours.
A cherry on top came in the form of Cuban phenom Luis Robert. Linked to the Astros and Cardinals, Chicago came out victorious in the hotly contested sweepstakes. A $26 million signing bonus marks the next-best total in baseball history, behind countryman and, if everything goes according to plan, future teammate Yoan Moncada.
The franchise holds a rich history of Cuban signings, including former Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and current first baseman Jose Abreu. The latter used his roots to develop a rapport with Moncada and will surely do the same for Robert.
Well, the top ranked Cuban prospect is now in the Major League Baseball system. After two dominant years —at ages 17 and 18— in the Cuban National Series, the still-only 19-year old has adjusted very well after his jump to the States.
Suiting up for the Dominican Summer Rookie League White Sox, he’s manned centerfield in seven of his nine games (two games at DH), perfect in the outfield grass so far, albeit in a small sample size.
But it’s his work at the plate that we’re all looking at.
Upon first glance, everyone looks at batting average and Robert’s isn’t good. At .222, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice to not look beyond that number.
Again, all this is a remarkably small sample, but with a profile (and investment) like Luis Robert’s, you can’t not follow along every time he takes a cut.
In game one, he went yard. To the excitement of everyone, save the opposing pitcher, a potential star was born in dramatic fashion. He went 1-for-2 with a walk, foreshadowing exceptional plate discipline.
Nine games has brought us 36 plate appearances, nine of which have been walks. Free passes account for a clean 25 percent of his first at-bats and he’s struck out just seven times in comparison.
This adds up to a dazzling .417 OBP. He’s 4-for-6 on the basepaths, flashing the speed tool in his extensive arcade of attributes.
Robert has three hits in his last seven AB’s and will likely graduate to Low-A quickly with eyes on High-A by the age of 20, which he will be on August 3rd.
No matter the sport, the transition from international to national competition is always difficult. Among those who make the jump at all, many flame out. And quickly. A lot of eyes are on Luis Robert, but his first taste of professional ball in America looks darn good.